Covid-19 cases gallop in Capital: Delhi adds 7,437 infections, most since Nov 19
Cases of the coronavirus disease in Delhi are currently rising at a rate not seen even during the worst phases of the previous three waves of Covid-19 in the Capital, indicating that the fourth wave of infections is well on course to break all previous records, shows data analysed by HT.
On Thursday, Delhi reported 7,437 new Covid-19 infections, the highest single-day increase in cases since November 19, even as the Covid-19 positivity rate – the fraction of tests that return positive – continued to rise and touched 8.1%.
For the week ending on April 8, Delhi has now reported 4,684 new infections every day on average, the highest the seven-day average has touched since December 1. While in absolute numbers, this is the worst case rate in over three months, the numbers get far more alarming in terms of rate of increase.
Just seven days ago, the seven-day average of daily cases was just 1,783. This means that in just a week, the rate of new infections has increased by 163%.
This is a week-on-week growth rate much higher than what was witnessed in Delhi during any of the first, second or third waves, data shows. During the first wave (between early May and early July), the seven-day average of cases peaked at 3,446 and the week-on-week growth touched a high of 101%. In the second wave, which peaked at 4,174 cases in mid-September, the growth rate never went beyond 58%. Even during the third wave, when the seven-day average of new cases soared to 7,341 in mid-November, the week-on-week growth rate remained under 40%.
A growth rate of 163% is the largest rate of increase in cases witnessed in the Capital since the first week of April last year. To be sure, in April 2020, the outbreak in India was just a month old (the first batch of cases were reported on March 3) and the volume of cases was significantly lower — Delhi was reporting around 50 new cases a day then.
In fact, if cases stay on this course of growth for one more week, then the city may be reporting more than 10,000 cases a day — far beyond the third wave’s peak.
The case-spike has the state government and experts worried.
Delhi health minister Satyendar Jain on Wednesday said, “The pace at which cases are increasing, we worry it might break the previous record. We cannot say anything for sure, but many other states have a higher positivity rate than Delhi.”
The Capital added a record 8,593 cases on November 11, at the peak of the third wave of the infection in the city.
Jain said the vaccination drive needed to be sped up and that the Delhi government has written to the Centre urging them to allow vaccinations for everyone above the age of 18.
The Centre on Wednesday allowed states to start vaccination drives at workplaces, to speed up the pace of inoculations.
The positivity rate in the city has also increased rapidly. Just a week ago, the positivity rate was 3.57%, while it was 1.8% seven days before that.
Delhi’s positivity rate remained 1% for 82 days before it breached the threshold on March 20.
“Infections are increasing rapidly. The virus is clearly transmitting faster. One of the reasons for the faster spread of the infection is that young people are out and about. It makes a lot of a difference. For example, young people tend to speak louder; it has already been established the louder you speak the farther the viral particle spreads. It can travel up to six metres and not just two metres that we ask people to maintain,” said Dr SK Sarin, director, Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences (ILBS). He headed the Delhi government’s first committee on Covid-19 control and management.
He also said that eating together increased the risk of transmission several times.
“If you are eating together in restaurants and offices, the risk of transmission goes up. Statistics from the district of Columbia in Washington DC showed that there was a 10-fold increase in the number of cases and five-fold increase in the number of deaths 100 days after restaurants were opened up,” he said.
Meanwhile, 37 doctors treating Covid-19 patients at Delhi’s Sir Ganga Ram Hospital tested positive for Covid-19, hospital officials said, adding that the majority of them had mild symptoms. Thirty two doctors are in home isolation, and five are admitted in the hospital.
HC stops hybrid hearings after spike
The Delhi high court and the city’s seven district courts have stopped hybrid hearings (physical and virtual) till April 23 and will only hear cases through video conferencing from Friday in the wake of a sharp spike in the number of Covid-19 infections in the city.
In a notification, Manoj Jain, registrar of the Delhi high court, said that the full court of the Delhi HC has decided to take up cases virtually “in view of the alarming rise in the Covid-19 cases in the NCT of Delhi”.
“….this Court shall, with effect from April 9, take up matters as per the existing arrangement with regard to listing of cases, through virtual mode only, till April 23,” the order read.
“All the courts of Joint Registrar (Judicial) shall also, with effect from April 9, hold courts through virtual mode only, till April 23,” it added.
The courts in the city had earlier started physical hearing from March 15. However, it later switched to hybrid hearings after requests from lawyers.